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Lawyers seek identities of detained Pakistani Christians

Police accused of holding suspects illegally on rioting and lynching charges

ucanews.com reporter, Lahore

ucanews.com reporter, Lahore

Published: April 07, 2015 05:00 PM GMT

Updated: April 08, 2015 05:41 PM GMT

Lawyers seek identities of detained Pakistani Christians

Pakistani Christians stage a protest in Lahore on March 16, 2015 against suicide bombing attacks on churches by Taliban militants. Fourteen people were killed and more than 70 injured when two Taliban suicide bombers attacked churches in Pakistan's Lahore on March 15, sparking mob violence in which two other suspected militants died. (AFP photo/ Arif Ali)

Lawyers are calling on authorities to reveal the identities of detained Christians suspected of involvement in rioting and the lynching of two people in the aftermath of deadly attacks last month on Christian churches in Lahore.

Sixteen people died on March 15 when Taliban suicide bombers blew themselves up at the two churches during Sunday services in Youhanabad, a Christian neighborhood of Lahore.

Enraged Christians across Pakistan protested the bombings. In Lahore, several demonstrators allegedly killed two men suspected of being accomplices in the attacks.

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According to Center for Legal Aid and Assistance (CLAAS), a non-profit law firm, which takes up cases of persecuted Christians, more than 100 Christians were rounded up for rioting and the subsequent lynchings.

While most were sent to jail, some have been illegally held without being brought before the courts, CLAAS national director Joseph Francis says.

Pakistan law requires police to bring suspects before the courts within 24 hours of being charged.

Last week CLAAS filed a petition in the Lahore High Court, seeking the whereabouts of 29 Christians it said were being held by police but were not produced in court.

“In response to our petition about the 29 Christians, police have told the court that 15 have been sent to jail, 14 have been released,” Tahir Bashir a CLAAS lawyer told ucanews.com following a court hearing on Wednesday.

“Of the 14 released, one has gone to Thailand and three are missing,” Bashir said.

“We have asked the court to seek the identity of those still being held by the police,” he added.

CLAAS also voiced concern over the fate of the three Christians listed as missing.

Francis said he would file a separate plea calling for an investigation into the whereabouts of the three missing Christians on April 13 the date of the next court hearing.

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